180.561 (16W) Performing Culture

Wintersemester 2016/17

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Erster Termin der LV
19.01.2017 09:00 - 17:00 , V.1.34
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LV-Titel englisch
Performing Culture
Kurs (prüfungsimmanente LV )
11 (30 max.)



Note: Some people might be offended by the language, ideological/religious, political, and sexual-gender issues addressed in this course’s film viewing, lectures, and classroom discussions. Also, there might be nudity, slang, “curse words,” and representations of violence and sex in the videos. If the content of the videos, lectures, and/or classroom discussions are concerns for you, please discuss the matter with me before enrolling in the course. No student will be excused from watching the videos in class because of the subject matter. If you think this course might not be for you because of the content of the videos, lectures, and/or classroom discussions, please do not take the course.

Professor Bryan Reynolds

Email: bryan.reynolds@uci.edu

This course is going to be a lot of fun. This is all you have to do: show up to every class meeting, every second of them, pay close attention to the lectures, participate in class discussions, think, read the essays assigned for each meeting in advance of the class meeting, the ones you already submitted “question papers” for, think some more, bring Performance Studies: Key Words, Concepts, and Theories (required book) and other essays (to be circulated weeks before class) to every class meeting, do not lose the readings during class hoopla, pay closer attention, think some more, perform brilliantly in the group presentation, and write a stellar paper, and you will do great. Cake.


Culture, ethnicity, aesthetics, and ideology, often powerfully combined in the concept “subculture,” play a crucial role in the development of American identities (and identities elsewhere). This course explores how and why culture is performed as a means by which to define, express, and maintain social identity, and, going deeper, the values and passions that inspire them. Subcultures, such as Beats, hippies, slam poets, bikers, punks, Goths, nerds, geeks, pachucos, magicians, activists, BMXers, surfers, freeskiers, skateboarders, drag kings, bodybuilders, strippers, modern dancers, hip-hop enthusiasts, and gangstas, etc., have importantly formed and thrived in countries worldwide, including the United States, which will be our focus. This course is less interested in subcultural affiliations – “community cultures” – based on ethnic/national differences and origins (African-, Italian-, Chinese-, Irish-American, etc.) than on the aesthetics, ideology, politics, desire, affect, and consumerism reciprocally informed by “alternative” or “counter” cultural formations (not dominant in any standard artistic, demographic, or regional registrar). We will engage various theories of culture, subjectivity, identity, aesthetics, media, and consumerism from a range of disciplines, though there will be emphasis on approaches from performance, theater, cognitive, ethnic, media, and cultural studies, as we explore the significance and influence of American subcultures, especially as they are fetishized, commodified, and – most importantly – performed.


Bryan Reynolds ed. Performance Studies: Key Words, Concepts, and Theories, Editor (London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

Please read and write your response papers on the following essays in advance of our first meeting: “The Ethical Drive” (introduction); “Public Sphere” (chp. 2); “Social Practice” (chp. 33); “Empathetic Engagement” (chp. 25); “Evo-Neuro-Theatre” (chp. 30); “Social Somatics” (chp. 21); “Misperformance” (chp. 5); “Spatial Concepts” (chp. 20); “Citizenship, The Ethics of Inclusion” (chp. 15); “Theatre of Immediacy, Transversal Poetics” (chp. 23).



Students must write 1-2 page responses papers (doubled-spaced, typed, 12-point font – preferably Times New Roman) for each of the 10 required readings in advance of our first meeting, hard copies to be submitted to me at the beginning of that meeting. In these papers, you are asked to pose a question about the reading and attempt to answer it in such a way that you highlight the main ideas of the essay (you can refer to examples of sociocultural performance to help substantiate your points). The readings, listed below, are all from my edited book, Performance Studies: Key Words, Concepts, and Theories. You will need to get this from somewhere. I will also send some supplementary readings, but you do not need to write response papers for these. The 10 responses papers are worth 30% of your grade.

You will also be required to do a group presentation, 10 minutes, in which you analyze a subculture using ideas from the readings or from class discussions. I will discuss these at the beginning of the first meeting. The presentation is worth 20% of your grade.

Participation in class discussion, worth 20% of your grade.

10-page essay (doubled-spaced, typed, 12-point font – preferably Times New Roman) on a given subculture of your choice, approved in advance by me, and engaging three of the required readings or other essays that you find on your own. This essay must be submitted to me, by email (bryan.reynolds@uci.edu) , no later than the end of March 15, 2017 . The essay is worth 30% of your grade.

There will be no midterm or final exam.


Note/Grade Benotungsschema

Position im Curriculum

  • Masterstudium Medien, Kommunikation und Kultur (SKZ: 841, Version: 09W.1)
    • Fach: Cultural Studies und Medien (Wahlfach)
      • Kurs ( 2.0h KU / 6.0 ECTS)
        • 180.561 Performing Culture (2.0h KS / 6.0 ECTS)

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